Found March 04, 2013 on Fox Sports Florida:
FORT MYERS, Fla. Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon continued to receive quality looks at the arms at his disposal. This time, right-handers Jeremy Hellickson and Jeff Niemann were placed under inspection. Hellickson started in the Rays 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Monday at JetBlue Park, giving up one run and two hits in three innings. Meanwhile, Niemann made a rare bullpen entrance, following Hellickson by giving up one run and three hits in 2.2 innings. Niemann, whos fighting to earn an end-of-the-rotation spot, was given the loss. It was his first of the spring. I thought him and Hellickson were both very sharp, Maddon said of Niemann. Helly was really sharp. Good velocity, good breaking ball, curve and change. I saw the same thing out of Jeff. The velocity is not where it normally is yet, but I saw a good curve ball and a good split and a lot of movement once again. Both could receive more work this season with right-hander James Shields departure to the Kansas City Royals in December. Hellickson finished 10-11 with a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts last season. Meanwhile, Niemann missed ample time due to injury last summer and closed with a 3.08 ERA in 38 innings. Im very happy, Hellickson said. My arm felt great. Everything felt good coming out of it today. All my stuff feels really good right now. Added Niemann: It felt all right out there. It was a little different coming out of the bullpen. But, overall, it went well. Maddon's unusual off day Maddon has quite the plans for the Rays off day, and they include a process with his health in mind. The manager will undergo his first colonoscopy Wednesday morning, when the Rays are scheduled for a free date. Maddon, 59, said he will begin fasting Tuesday and envisions managing the teams game against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers that afternoon. He will then travel to Tampa for pre-exam procedures, with hopes of riding his bike by Wednesday afternoon and enjoying a large meal in the evening. He plans to manage Tampa Bays game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday afternoon in Bradenton, Fla. Its the first one, Maddon said. Im very excited about this. Tomorrow is going to be kind of a fasting day. Ive only heard about it, so its one of those life experiences that you must go through as a young male. Its one of those things youve got to have done. Why walk away from it? Luke Scott update Designated hitter Luke Scott wasnt in the lineup Monday after tightness in his left hamstring made him leave the Rays 7-2 victory over the Twins early on Sunday at Charlotte Sports Park. Maddon doesnt seem too concerned about Scotts long-term health, though, citing the afternoons chilly weather as reason for the issue. Scott hit .229 and had 14 home runs in 96 games last season, his first with the Rays after coming over from the Baltimore Orioles. There was just tightness so theres no real concern, Maddon said. Youve just got to wait another day or two and get him back out there. It was just such a cold day yesterday that it tightened up a little bit more than normal. Wil Myers visions Maddon has received many questions about promising outfield prospect Wil Myers this spring. However, he found a new way to describe his anticipation Monday. Back in the day, when I was a scout, one of the last tests I gave myself was to imagine whatever player I was going to put in on the draft, could I see him walking out on the field at Yankees Stadium, back toward me with his name on the back could I visualize that? Maddon said. Its easy to visualize him doing those things. Myers went 0 for 3 with a strikeout against the Red Sox. Hes batting .235 this spring. You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
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